Don’t Greenwash When Marketing Your Business

Have a product that you’re thinking about marketing as “green” or “eco-friendly”? You may want to tweak your marketing plans.

Responding to the rampant and unregulated marketing of products as Earth-friendly, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is set to update its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (also known as the Green Guides) later this year. One of the proposed changes is a bar on the use of unqualified claims of environmental benefit, such as “sustainable” or “Earth-friendly.” Other proposed changes include limitations on the use of green certifications or seals of approval, claims that the product was created with renewable energy or renewable materials, and terms such as “biodegradable,” “compostable,” “recyclable,” “non-toxic,” or “ozone-safe.” Violators of these guidelines may find themselves taken to court by the FTC.

What to do if you truly believe your product is green and want to shout it from the rooftops? Comply with the FTC’s guidelines. Make sure all of your claims are verifiable. And seek third-party certification from a company like Green Seal.

If you’re a consumer trying to wade through the sea of green labels on store shelves, check out GreenerChoices.org, run by the publishers of Consumer Reports.